Huskie Bowl notebook: New-look D-line gets good reviews

DeKALB – Heading into the spring, defensive line certainly seemed like a question mark at Northern Illinois.

Four starters – defensive ends Joe Windsor and George Rainey and defensive tackles Anthony Wells and Ken Bishop, are gone from last year's team.

With spring practice over folllowing Saturday's Huskie Bowl, won by the defense, 72-37, Carey likes where the group is at.

"It was a new look last year, too. That's what happens with good programs who play a lot of seniors," he said. "This year, there will be a few seniors out there but it will be more juniors and sophomores. (Defensive ends) Perez (Ford) and (Austin) Smaha, it's their time. (Defensive tackles) William Lee, Corey Thomas, Mario Jones, Mike Ippolito, it's their time."

Daniels ready to roll: Carey wasn't happy with the offense's performance on Saturday.

One player who did show something was senior tailback Akeem Daniels, who had a couple of nice runs. Daniels missed last season with a foot injury, but will be ready to go when the Huskies open the season against FCS Presbyterian Aug. 28.

Words can't really describe how excited Daniels is for that day.

"It will be like a movie. I don't even know what to say about it," he said. "I'll be so shocked with the fans and stuff in the crowd. I'm looking forward to it."

While NIU will be breaking in a new quarterback, the Huskies have plenty of depth at wide receiver and running back, and Daniels will be part of a talented mix there.

"We have a lot, from Draco Smith, Joel (Bouagnon), Jordan (Huff), Cam (Stingily)," Daniels said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all those guys in the future."

Young O-linemen take advantage of extra reps: With two starters from last year's offensive line – Tyler Loos and Ryan Brown, missing the spring due to injury, it's opened up reps for younger linemen.

NIU likes to rotate players up front, and Loos and Brown could be challenged for their starting spots, according to Carey.

"I think there's a dang good battle going on up front on the O-line," Carey said. "Brownie and Loos are out right now, our two starting tackles, and (Josh) Ruka, (Levon) Myers and Lincoln Howard have played really well this spring."